Sen. Levin: Military Chaplains Shouldn't 'Violate the Tenets of their Troops'

February 7, 2012 - 9:06 PM

Sen. Carl Levin

Sen. Carl Levin (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Tuesday that he was not informed enough to make a definitive statement on whether the Army’s Office of Chief of Chaplains was right when it ordered Catholic chaplains not to read a Jan. 26 letter from the Catholic Archdiocese of the Military Services during Mass.

“As soon as I get the information, we’ll get back to you with a comment,” he said. “Until I see exactly what the facts are, I can’t comment fairly or accurately on that because I need to know all the facts, I want to see the letter, I want to hear the arguments for it.”

The Archbishop’s letter condemns the recent regulation issued by the Health and Human Services Department, which mandates that all health-care plans cover contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion inducing “emergency contraceptives.”

The letter said the Obama administration’s requirement under Obamacare that all insurance plan cover contraceptives and sterilizations was “a blow” to the very freedom that U.S. troops have not only fought to defend but for which some have recently died in battle

But Levin did offer a comment.

“We want our chaplains in the military to be able to follow their own religious tenets, we never want anyone to violate their own religious tenets, but we don’t want them to violate the tenets of their troops either,” Levin told CNSNews.com.

“And that’s why there’s always that tension that exists, so we never want to put a chaplain in a position where they’re doing something which is violative of their own beliefs, but we also want to make sure that the religious beliefs of their troops are also respected.

“And that requires some decisions which sometimes are complex and I’m not going to get into that kind of a complex area without knowing all of the facts and hearing all the arguments.”

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Transcript of exchange between CNSNews.com and Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.):

CNSNews.com: My question is actually in relation to something that’s happening here right now -- the Army’s Office of Chief of Chaplains recently told Catholic priests serving in the Army not to read a letter from the pulpit from the Archbishop of the military. And the letter condemns the recent contraceptive mandate issued by HHS. The letter says it was “a blow” to the very freedom that US troops have not only fought to defend but for which some have recently died in battle. Should the Army have told the chaplains not to read that letter during mass?

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich): As soon as I get the information, we’ll get back to you with a comment. Until I see exactly what the facts are, I can’t comment fairly or accurately on that because I need to know all the facts, I want to see the letter, I want to hear the arguments for it. We want our chaplains in the military to be able to follow their own religious tenets, we never want anyone to violate their own religious tenets, but we don’t want them to violate the tenets of their troops either. And that’s why there’s always that tension that exists, so we never want to put a chaplain in a position where they’re doing something which is violative of their own beliefs, but we also want to make sure that the religious beliefs of their troops are also respected. And that requires some decisions which sometimes are complex and I’m not going to get into that kind of a complex area without knowing all of the facts and hearing all the arguments.